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Informing the establishment of the WHO global observatory on health research
and development: a call for papers
Health Research Policy and Systems 2015, 13:9
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-13-9
Taghreed Adam (adamt@who.int)
John-Arne Røttingen (John-Arne.Rottingen@fhi.no)
Marie-Paule Kieny (kienym@who.int)
ISSN
Article type
1478-4505
Commentary
Submission date
15 January 2015
Acceptance date
21 January 2015
Publication date
2 February 2015
Article URL
http://www.health-policy-systems.com/content/13/1/9
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Informing the establishment of the WHO global
observatory on health research and development: a
call for papers
Taghreed Adam1*
*
Corresponding author
Email: adamt@who.int
John-Arne Røttingen2,3
Email: John-Arne.Rottingen@fhi.no
Marie-Paule Kieny1
Email: kienym@who.int
1
World Health Organization, Health Systems and Innovation, 1211 Geneva,
Switzerland
2
Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Division of Infectious Disease Control,
and Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
3
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA
Abstract
In May 2013, WHO’s Member States requested the WHO to establish a Global Observatory
on Health Research and Development (R&D), as part of a strategic work-plan to promote
innovation, build capacity, improve access and mobilize resources to address diseases that
disproportionately affect the world’s poorest countries.
The rationale for establishing a Global Observatory on Health R&D is to provide a
mechanism to monitor and analyse health R&D resource flows, product pipelines and
research outputs, with a view to contributing to the identification of gaps to inform prioritysetting for new R&D investments to be operationalised through a new global financing and
coordination mechanism for health R&D and utilized by all stakeholders informing health
research policy decisions in countries, civil society and the private sector.
As one of the mechanisms to achieve the goals of the Global Observatory on Health R&D,
WHO is launching a Call for Papers to be published as a Thematic Series in Health Policy
Research and Systems to contribute state-of-the-art knowledge and innovative approaches to
analyse, interpret and report on health R&D information; and to serve as a key resource to
inform the future WHO-convened coordination mechanism that will be utilized to generate
evidence-informed priorities for new R&D investments to be financed through a proposed
new global financing and coordination mechanism for health R&D.
Keywords
Observatory, Research and development, Funding, Investments, Global health
Background
After almost a decade since calling for closing the 10/90 gap, a concept put forward by the
Commission on Health Research for Development to highlight disparities in research and
development support for neglected diseases affecting the world’s poorest countries [1], WHO
and its Member States are now united in recognizing the urgency in addressing the health
needs of the world’s poorest countries. In particular, the inequities in the current research
landscape due to recognized market failures; and the need for increasing investments in
health research and development (R&D) related to diseases that overwhelmingly or
predominantly affects the poor (Type III and Type II diseases) and the specific research and
development needs of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) for diseases affecting both
high-income countries and LMICs (Type I) [2,3].
Related to this, in May 2013, the World Health Assembly in its resolution 22.66 requested the
WHO to establish a Global Observatory on Health R&D, as part of a strategic work-plan
along with other actions including exploring the possibilities for the development of a global
financing and coordination mechanism for health R&D to promote innovation, build
capacity, improve access and mobilize resources to address diseases that disproportionately
affect the world’s poorest countries [3]. The ultimate goal is the development and delivery of
affordable, effective, safe and quality health products, especially those for which existing
market mechanisms fail to provide incentives for R&D.
The rationale for establishing a Global Observatory on Health R&D is to provide a
mechanism to monitor and analyse relevant existing information on health R&D, including
resource flows, product pipelines and research outputs, with a view to contributing to the
identification of gaps and opportunities for health R&D and to inform priority-setting for new
R&D investments based on the public health needs of the world’s poorest countries.
Seizing the opportunity for health research and
development: Introducing a new journal series
To take advantage of this momentum and recognizing the pressing need for high quality
evidence on the availability of and gaps in health R&D to inform future allocation of
resources [4], WHO is issuing a Call for Papers inviting interested researchers and
institutions to contribute to the knowledge base necessary to inform these decisions, taking
advantage of the data made available through the Global Observatory platform and the
associated resources on the dedicated WHO website.
The overall goal of this Call is the publication of a selection of papers to contribute to a new
peer-reviewed journal Series on “Health R&D”. With such a timely collection of articles and
cutting-edge knowledge in this field, WHO aims to provide global stakeholders with up-todate knowledge on methods, strategies, tools, experiences and applications to draw from
when developing future investment decisions and implementation plans for new R&D. More
importantly, the aim is to push the frontier for knowledge and innovation in this field by
inviting new thinking, approaches, analysis and information and welcome a wide range of
perspectives and disciplines relevant to understanding the availability of and funding for
health R&D.
Scope of the series and the call for papers
We welcome primary research in the following categories and topics. Articles providing new
knowledge and innovative techniques will be prioritized as well as analysis of diseases that
overwhelmingly or predominantly affect the poor, e.g., neglected diseases. Purely descriptive
articles or those that simply seek to argue for the importance of investments on health R&D
or make the case for why it matters are not encouraged in the context of this Series. The
examples below are to provide some ideas of what would be considered relevant for this Call.
Others ideas that fit the purpose and scope of this Call are also welcome.
Methodologies
This category of papers may include methodological developments, approaches, tools or
explorations to support analysis or understanding of the range of health R&D and related
investments, as well as approaches to incorporate the associated learning in the policy making
process. This could be a reflection of existing experiences as well as exploration of new
ideas.
Some examples of methodological topic areas include:
1. Priority setting for health R&D – methodologies for defining needs (including evidence on
burden of disease, evidence on severity of disease, product gaps, demand / market size
projections, stakeholder values, etc.)
2. Decision making for funding R&D / methods for selecting new R&D (including technicaland process-related tools, e.g. to determine trade-offs between alternatives, including
elements such as market incentives and failures etc.)
3. Handling financial flow data with a focus on R&D
4. Measuring expenditure data with a focus on R&D
5. Assessing product pipelines (e.g., in terms of quality, sustainability, relevance to needs
and/or priorities)
6. Approaches to assessing research outputs – e.g., bibliometrics or social network analysis
7. Approaches to assessing research results – e.g., in terms of the range of products and
innovation
8. Forecasting future R&D funding needs
9. Forecasting future R&D funding levels
Reviews
Reviews of empirical work that discuss or clarify the different approaches to explore the
availability, ethics, capacity for and investments in health R&D. They may include:
1. Reviews of ethical considerations in developing new R&D for particular population
groups, diseases or product types
2. Resource tracking tool assessments for R&D, e.g., for:
a)
b)
Product pipelines: (1) product developers and what they develop; (2) evaluating
tracking tools, their strengths and limitations
R&D funding: (1) funders and what they fund; (2) evaluating tracking tools, their
strengths and limitations
Analyses
This category may include analytical work to inform future research or new investment
decisions on health R&D, for example:
1. Funding trends and R&D gap analyses by disease area / product area / R&D stage
2. Landscape analyses of financing mechanisms for incentivizing R&D
3. Landscape analyses of platforms for implementing R&D (competitive vs collaborative
models)
4. In-depth product development pipeline analyses by disease area / product area / R&D
stage
5. In-depth product development expenditure analyses by disease area / product area / R&D
stage (his could be tailored, e.g. by looking at Product Development Partnership
expenditures first)
6. Bottleneck analyses in R&D (translational, manufacturing, intellectual property,
regulatory, etc.)
7. Survey-based analyses of stakeholder motivations behind funding and selecting R&D
8. Predictive analyses of expected future R&D funding and barriers / success factors to
meeting funding needs
9. Bibliometric analysis of research outputs, e.g., covering:
a. What topics, studies, to what extent, by whom
b. Research collaborators and their networks
Utilization
This category may, for example, make use of case studies to share innovative ideas or
experiences that has worked in the health R&D field. These may include:
1. Case studies of best-practice models of financing or managing R&D
2. Cases where rigorous monitoring and analyses have been utilized to inform decision
making
How to apply to the call for papers
Interested researchers are invited to submit an abstract to adamt@who.int using the
guidelines and template available in Additional file 1 and on the WHO website
http://www.who.int/healthsystems/news/en/ . The deadline for submission is the 8th of March
2015 (23:59 GMT). An external scientific committee will select abstracts for potential
inclusion in the Series. The final decision for inclusion rests with the editors of Health Policy
Research and Systems, following the usual peer-review process. The Series aims to cover up
to 25 articles of diverse nature and topics. If the desired number and diversity of articles is
not reached, the deadline for accepting abstracts for this Call will be extended, which will be
announced on the WHO website (link above). Selection of additional papers after the
deadline will follow the same process.
Looking forward
There are several needs and opportunities for methodological developments and new
information to support analysis and priority setting for health R&D. With this new Thematic
Series on health R&D, we hope to encourage researchers and institutions interested in this
field to address or advance some of them. The ultimate goal is to inform the establishment of
WHO’s Global Observatory on Health R&D and to guide future decision-making and priority
setting in this area.
Global stakeholders have various roles to play to take advantage of the momentum created by
the World Health Assembly’s Resolution and the powerful underlying desire to redress the
current imbalances in health R&D investments, particularly WHO Member States’ request to
WHO to explore the possibilities for hosting a pooled fund, which would finance priority
R&D projects. The priorities of the fund would be informed by the analysis of the research
landscape provided by the Global Observatory for Health R&D, including those provided by
this Thematic Series, as recommended by the future WHO-convened coordination
mechanism [3].
We, therefore, believe that this Series is well positioned to provide timely, high quality, easily
accessible and relevant information to capitalise on this momentum and more importantly to
serve as a key resource to inform this global agenda with the ultimate goal to address priority
research gaps for health R&D that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest countries.
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Acknowledgements
The views expressed in this Editorial are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the
organizations they represent.
Funding
This Editorial is part of the Thematic Series entitled: “Informing the establishment of the
WHO Global Observatory on Health Research and Development”. The Series is coordinated
by the World Health Organization.
References
1. Currat LJ, de Francisco A, Al-Tuwaijri S, Ghaffar A, Jupp S. 10/90 Report on Health
Research 2003–2004. http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?id=17141.
2004. Global Forum for Health Research.
2. World Health Organization. Research and Development to Meet Health Needs in
Developing Countries: Strengthening Global Financing and Coordination. In: World Health
Organization, editor. Report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and
Development: Financing and Coordination. 2012.
http://www.who.int/phi/CEWG_Report_5_April_2012.pdf?ua=1.
3. World Health Organization. WHA resolution 66.22: Follow up of the report of the
Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and
Coordination. World Health Organization; 2013. http://www.who.int/phi/resolution_WHA66.22.pdf.
4. Rottingen JA, Regmi S, Eide M, Young AJ, Viergever RF, Ardal C, et al. Mapping of
available health research and development data: what’s there, what’s missing, and what role
is there for a global observatory? Lancet. 2013;382:1286–307.
Additional file
Additional_file_1 as DOC
Additional file 1 (DOC 93 kb)
Additional files provided with this submission:
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http://www.health-policy-systems.com/imedia/2071435477158596/supp1.doc